alias Laing, alias Chanel, alias Brunel, alias Bennet, alias Shannon…
Fraudster, impersonator, confidence trickster; Amy Bock’s penchant for deception earned
her multiple sentences between 1886 and 1931.
Of these, the most sensational occurred in 1909, when Bock posed as a
man, and married the daughter of a South Otago boarding house owner.
Our data provides a snapshot of Amy as she moved around the country, committing
crimes along the way. Originally a teacher from Australia, Bock spent time in
Lyttelton Gaol on four occasions. The first, in 1889, was a six-month sentence
for larceny (stealing) and false pretences, while working as a Governess near
Akaroa. She returned for six months in 1893, after selling her landlady’s
watch, and very soon after serving sentences in Timaru and Dunedin.
In 1902, as Molly or May Shannon – two of a catalogue of false names – Bock was
sentenced once again to two years, after using deception to raise funds to buy
a poultry farm. Finally, in 1904, she was sentenced as Amy Chanel to three
years for forgery, having altered a cheque.
Shortly after her last stay at Lyttelton Gaol, Amy made her way south where she became wealthy sheep farmer Percival Leonard Carol Redwood, and courted, then married, the unsuspecting Agnes Ottaway in April 1909. Amy was arrested again four days later and the marriage was annulled.